The Flame Angelfish () is, without a doubt, one of the most popular dwarf angelfish for both beginner and expert saltwater aquarists alike. This angelfish's bold red/orange color with vertical black stripes on the body and the blue-tipped dorsal and anal fins make this fish the centerpiece of any marine aquarium.
It is interesting to note the difference in colors and markings of the Flame Angel which change with the area that they are observed.
The Hawaiian specimens tend to be larger and have a deeper, more vibrant red color than those of the rest of the Indo-Pacific region, which are, in general, more orangish-red in color.
|Scientific Name||Centropyge loriculus|
|Synonym||Holacanthus loriculus, Centropyge loricula, Centropyge flammeus|
|Common Name||Flame Angelfish, Red Angelfish.|
|Origin||Indo-Pacific as far north as the Hawaiian Islands|
|Adult Size||about 4 inches|
|Tank Level||All levels|
|Minimum Tank Size||30 gallons|
|Breeding||Cannot be bred in captivity|
|Temperature||75–80 degrees Fahrenheit (25–27 degrees Celsius)|
Origin and Distribution
The Flame Angelfish was first found in the Society Islands in the Pacific but has been seen in tropical waters across the Western Pacific including Belau, the Hawaiian, Marquesas, and Ducie Islands, the Great Barrier Reef and the Pitcairn group of Islands.
These fish live in groups of 3-7 individuals and prefer stony coral reefs (particularly finger coral) in clear lagoons. They typically congregate at outer reef slopes at depths of 16 to 82 feet.
Colors and Markings
The Flame Angelfish, like all dwarf angels, has an oval body and rounded fins. They are beautiful fish with bright markings that vary widely depending upon their place of origin.
Flame Angels found in the Central Pacific area include both Marshall Islands and Christmas Island. Marshall Island Flame Angels are a more intense red (as opposed to an orange tint), with thicker black bars running vertically down the body. The Flame Angels in the Christmas Island area are normally more red/orange in color with thin black bars running vertically down the body. The Flame Angels from Cebu are red/orange with black bars which are more blurred edges and a tint of yellow in between the bars. Flame Angels from Tahiti are blood red in color and possess very little to no yellow, but are rarely collected.
Hawaiian specimens tend to be larger and have a deeper, more vibrant red color than those of the Indo-Pacific region, which are more orangish-red in color. The stripes on all species are still the same deep, almost fluorescent, deep blue-purple color.
Flame Angels can be kept with corals and invertebrates, though they may nip at large polyped stony corals, zoanthids, tridacnid clam mantles, and even some soft coral polyps. Therefore, this fish cannot be completely trusted if these invertebrates are present. Feeding the Flame Angel of desirable food will cut down on their desire to graze on the coral and limit any damage they will do to your corals.
They are happiest in mated pairs and small groups; with a single male in the group they are rarely aggressive toward one another, but males might fight. Other safe tankmates include semi-aggressive species such as other dwarf angels, anthias, clownfish, tangs, and large wrasses. They can sometimes share a tank with more aggressive fish so long as the Flame Angels are the larger species.
Flame Angel Fish Habitat and Care
The Flame Angelfish is considered one of the best choices for aquariums because it usually adapts well to captivity. To thrive, it should be kept in either a 30-gallon live-rock tank or in a 100-gallon tank if there are corals present. Provide plenty of shelter for hiding, along with ample algae for nibbling. Be aware that copper is lethal to this species, so don't use any copper-containing decorations or tubing.
Flame Angelfish are comfortable with moderate lighting and any amount of water movement. They enjoy swimming at various levels of the tank; don't be surprised if you find them toward the bottom rather than the middle of their habitat.
When introducing new Flame Angelfish to the tank, do keep them in quarantine for a few days; it's not unusual for these fish to be shipped with pre-existing parasites or disease. Once released, monitor them carefully to be sure they're thriving and not overly aggressive.
Flame Angel Fish Diet
An omnivore that eats both plant and animal fares, it should be provided with ample live rock and algae growth to constantly graze on and is particularly a good diatom algae eater. This species will accept most any type of fares suitable for omnivores.
All fish of this species are born female. As they mature, the more dominant and larger fish become male while the others remain female. A relatively dominant female may become male if the male in the group dies. It is possible to put two females into a tank and wait for about two months until one of the fish becomes a male.
To determine which fish is male, look for fish that are larger with larger blue streaks on the dorsal and anal fins.
Breeding the Flame Angel Fish
It is very difficult to breed Flame Angel Fish. That said, however, these fish have spawned in captivity, and some lucky aquarists have succeeded in raising their young.
Flame Angelfish are spawning fish: they rise through the water column at dusk, releasing both eggs and sperm at the top. To encourage spawning, keep your fish in as deep a tank as possible, and use lighting to simulate a natural day and night. Ideally, you should turn off about half of your aquarium lights and then return an hour later to turn off the remaining lights. You'll need to do this at the same time each day.
Once the eggs are fertilized, they hatch in about 24 hours. A few days later they will be ready to eat; their favored food is microscopic algae.
More Pet Fish Breeds and Further Research
If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:
Otherwise, check out all of our other pet saltwater fish breed profiles.